LGM-30 Minuteman

The LGM -30 Minuteman is a three-tier U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile, manufactured by Boeing. It forms the core of the U.S. nuclear force. The Minuteman is equipped with nuclear warheads, has an integrated, automated navigation system, and is driven in all three stages with solid fuel. It is named after the Minutemen militia. The Minuteman organizations are part of the U.S. Air Force and are subject to since 2009/10, the Air Force Global Strike Command.


The first launch of a Minuteman I was on September 15, 1959, a Minuteman II on 24 September 1964 and a Minuteman III on August 16, 1968. Minuteman -I and- II have now been disabled, the Minuteman III missiles are to remain in use until around 2030. From this type of missile to the production end of 1977, several thousand pieces were produced.

The armed with a nuclear warhead Minuteman I initially intended to be mounted on railway cars, because mobile launchers are less vulnerable to first strikes. After this plan was abandoned in late 1961 due to financial reasons, size and weight restrictions could be abandoned. In the wake of the Minuteman - II was developed. There were 500 of these missiles stationed, with the end of the Cold War, these were all taken out of service. Some of these missiles is converted by the Orbital Sciences Corporation in Minotaur launch vehicles for satellite launches.

The further development of the Minuteman III allowed the use of three independently controllable warheads ( MIRVs ). First, this was the W-62/MK.12 with 170 kt explosive power, the late 1970s, a part of the Minuteman III with the W-78/Mk.12A was retrofitted with 335 kt. The W -62 is now replaced by the modernized W-87/SERV the retired MX Peacekeeper.

The Minuteman missiles are stationed ready to underground missile silos. The silos are connected in groups of ten with underground command posts (LCC ). These are staffed around the clock by two officers who need to run an incoming fire command by the simultaneous turning of two ignition switches. In addition, a fire command from a neighboring command level must be given. The Minuteman III are held permanently in a state at T- 30sec, which means that they can leave the silo 30 seconds after a valid start command. The individual silos each have a minimum distance of about 10 km. There is also the opportunity to fire the rockets from an airborne launch crew. This system is designed to ensure that you can launch the missiles even if the silo has lost contact with the control bunker. This was last rehearsed during a test flight from Vandenberg AFB in 2012.

A test on 16 June 2010 was the 200th flight of a Minuteman III since the first launch in 1968. The last test flight of a Minuteman III took place with an inert warhead from Vandenberg AFB on 27 July 2011. However, the test was a failure, the rocket was blown up by the flight control after an anomaly occurred. The cause of the error has not yet been posted.

In 2007 began the deactivation of 50 out of 500 deployed missiles at Malmstrom AFB the. On September 1, 2012, the United States reported the following figures for stationing its Minuteman III fleet under the New START Treaty:

  • 449 active boot silos with 449 missiles ( 150 Malmstrom AFB, Minot AFB 150, 149 Warren AFB )
  • 57 is not active launch facilities and 263 not stationed missiles

The United States is planning the development of LGM -30H Minuteman IV. However, it should be introduced at the earliest in 2030.

Decommissioned Minuteman I and II missiles continue to be used in some modified form as targets for missile defense development of the USA or satellite carrier.

Minuteman II at startup in Vandenberg

Minuteman III

Warheads of the type W78 as multiple warheads ( MIRV ) Mk12A for a LGM - 30G Minuteman III

Technical data of the Minuteman II ( LGM - 30F )

  • Ceiling: 1300 km
  • Off thrust: 780 kN
  • Take off weight: 33,014 kg
  • Diameter: 1.70 m
  • Length: 17.6 m
  • Fin span: 1.80 m
  • Mass of the warhead: 680 kg
  • Range: 11,300 km
  • Number of warheads: 1
  • Warhead: W56 ( explosive force of 1,200 kt TNT)
  • Maximum Speed: 29,030 km / h

Technical data of the Minuteman III ( LGM - 30G )

  • Ceiling: 1300 km
  • Off thrust: 780 kN
  • Take off weight: 35,300 kg
  • Diameter: 1.70 m
  • Length: 18.23 m
  • Fin span: 1.80 m
  • Mass warhead RV: ~ 400 kg
  • Range: 13,000 km
  • Number of warheads: 1 to 3
  • Warhead: W-62/Mk.12 (170 kt); W-78/Mk.12A (335 kt); W-87/Mk.21 (300 kt, 475 kt upgrade possible)
  • Maximum Speed: 29,030 km / h